Women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from stress and anxiety — and research suggests this gap is growing.

Politics was No. 1 on everyone’s stress meter, followed by personal-safety concerns, in a 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA). But several research has found that women experience dramatically more stress due to domestic work and “emotional labor.”

Worldwide, women perform nearly 3 times as much domestic work as men, based on a 2021 United Nations report. This labor is usually unpaid and often taken for granted, though it may be typically as strenuous as paid employment. Women do this even as their duties away from home have increased.

Emotional labor is more tenuous to define and measure. Researchers have described it as “putting on a contented face” in the family or workplace, which “surface acting” can be a damaging stressor, according to a 2021 report in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Stress and anxiety can, of course, affect overall well-being. “We know that chronic stress may take a toll on a person’s health,” explains psychologist Katherine Nordal, PhD, within the APA report. “It can make existing health issues worse and even cause disease, either due to changes in the body or improper habits people develop to cope with stress.

“The bottom line is that stress can lead to real physical and emotional health consequences.”

3 Ways to Manage Stress

  • Know your stressors. Being aware of what causes your stress is often a first step to dealing with it. For insights into stress triggers, see “Reset Your Stress.”
  • Embrace self-care. Take care of yourself by prioritizing sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising daily. For tips about self-care, see “The Art of Self-Care.”
  • Find support. We all can use help – whether from a friend, family member, or professional – when confronted with the burden of stress. “The role that a lack of social support plays inside a person's health is often underestimated,” explains psychologist Katherine Nordal, PhD. For tips about selecting a therapist or coach, see “Which Is Right for You: A Therapist or a Coach?.”